Without bees, butterflies and other bugs, we’d have no flowers.
Zinnias Are Butterfly Magnets
I remember the first year we grew zinnias. They started to bloom in late June, and we were impressed by the volume of flowers they put out. Some flowers are known as “cut and come again,” but zinnias are “cut and come more!” They just kept coming. It was great. Then, in about the third week of July, an armada of butterflies descended on the zinnia patch. It was a sight to behold. You couldn’t walk past them without having a butterfly land on you. They were beautiful and mesmerizing. Kids who came to visit our farm loved them. There were many smiles and giggles, from the parents, too.
When pollinators land on flowers, tiny pollen grains from the male part of one flower stick to their bodies and are subsequently carried to another flower where they are deposited on the female part. This fertilizes the plant and leads to fruit and seed production Bees make great pollinators because they proactively collect pollen, which is rich in protein, and carry it back to their hives where they feed it to their young. Their bodies are covered in hair that is optimized for snagging pollen and carrying it to the next flower. We are happy to see so many honey (and other) bees in our flower field. They are a sign of a healthy environment.
Pollinators are sometimes wiped out by farmers who apply pesticides to rid their crops of bad bugs and in the process wipe out the good ones as well. For that reason, we don’t use pesticides at Blue Gables Farm. To us it would be like setting our house on fire to get rid of mice inside it. Fortunately, we haven’t had too much trouble with bad bugs and we hope that continues.
We’ve noticed that volunteers – plants that grow on their own without seed being sowed – tend to be some of the best plants we have. We wonder why that is. We have a celosia plant that must have come from a seed that adhered to a piece of landscape fabric. We used the fabric in a new location this year and it grew. It’s the best celosia plant we have! The seed that plant grew from was very likely pollinated by an insect. So cool.
Blessed are the pollinators.